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South African mother and child

Christian Aid in South Africa

Christian Aid has been working in South Africa for more than 30 years, originally tackling the structures of apartheid and today helping marginalised communities to understand and claim their rights.

The profound transformation that followed the end of the apartheid era brought enhanced political and social rights for South Africans, but for the majority this has yet to translate into a better quality of life. Many continue to struggle for dignity and a decent life in the context of extreme and growing inequality.

Through our partners and the Joint ACT Alliance Solidarity hub, we help marginalised communities to understand and claim their rights, and fight for the change that will benefit many hundreds of thousands at a national level. But there is no quick fix. It will involve long-term advocacy and campaigning, to invest in a future that is equal for all. 

To increase our impact, Christian Aid is joining  Church of Sweden, Brot fuer die Welt and South African partners, to improve joint working on economic, gender and environmental justice. We are jointly creating the ACT Alliance Ubumbano Solidarity Hub as a new model in the country and more widely in Southern Africa. Find out more 

Our aims

  1. To enable a strong and vibrant movement of poor peoples’ organisations who are claiming their rights to a dignified life.
  2. Enable communities in South Africa to successfully hold government and/or private sector to account on economic justice/inequality and human rights and advocate for economic and tax justice in the country and globally.
  3. To help build a new joint operating model with European and Southern African ACT allies and partners to provide better support to civil society to challenge inequality in the three pillars of work: economic, gender and environmental injustice. Jointly we wish to define a new way of working in solidarity as equal partners.

In South Africa we work on...

Monitoring corporate and government behaviour

Our partner BenchMarks Foundation (BMF) is a leader in the field of community monitoring on mining in South Africa and Africa. Community monitoring is used in conjunction with in-depth environmental and health impact studies of mining activities to hold corporations to account.

The community monitoring school also assist organisations across the continent to build their own monitoring programmes. It has done so successfully in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, and Mozambique.

Our partner Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute (SPII) researches and monitors the implementation of Socio-economic human rights in the South African constitution.

Economic justice: tax justice, social protection and a decent wage

We are supporting initiatives to increase fiscal revenue from the extractive industries, other sectors of industry and the very rich. This additional income would be spent on improved social services and a better, protected social grant system.

One of these is the promotion of a Decent Living Wage and building a clear case for a basic income grant in South and Southern Africa.

Through tax advocacy we are seeking to influence the government’s position and agenda with regard to country-by-country reporting and transparency.

The Economic Justice Network (EJN) formally represents civil society and faith voice in spaces like BRICS and the G20, and together with other partners are working on integrating tax justice with the advocacy work around extractives/mining.

Solidarity Hub : enabling a strong movement

At the centre of our new model is the convening of a space for learning and discerning new ways of supporting struggles for justice, and for exploring alternative models for development. With this we are hoping to connect in-country and extending to Southern Africa thought leadership, with solid research, national and regional advocacy with close links with marginalised communities. Our Solidarity Hub Gender Justice work enables dialogue between gender-based violence survivors and faith leaders. Solidarity hub focus is to integrate Economic, Environmental and Gender Justice, as these are interconnected struggles and elevate community voices.  Learn more

Key achievements

Campaigning for change

Christian Aid's partner - Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute (SPII) - was behind a successful campaign to reduce the old age pension qualifying age from 65 to 60, benefiting millions of people. SPII's advocacy was key to the country's first ever national minimum wage legislation in 2018. SPII was the community constituency chief negotiator, and through strategic discussions with the government, business and organised labour achieved a higher rate than initially tabled. 

Tax justice

The Economic Justice Network (EJN), played a central role in supporting the South African government to set up an inter-governmental body on tax, which will help to combat illicit financial flows out of Africa.

Mining

BenchMarks Foundation (BMF) is mandated by the churches to monitor multinational corporations in South Africa and the region to ensure they respect human rights and the environment. They ensure affected communities are heard, protected and considered by big companies. The Soweto Health and Mining study "Waiting to Inhale" gained widespread media coverage leading both companies and the government to take positive action.

BMF has made important recent advances in pressuring mining companies to make their secretive environmental impact assessments, social and labour plans more widely available to the public. 

BMF and EJN are central partners in growing the Alternative Mining Indaba (AMI) – now with over 500 participants -  as an alternative platform to the corporate mining indaba, it gives mining-affect communities a voice, and the corporate event is increasingly aware of its presence, and directly responds to themes raised at the AMI.  

We were about to lose hope about our land, our minerals and basic rights. As we see mining companies are having deals with our municipalities, chiefs. Now we hope that we can work together as communities and come up with a plan to confront this.

Khutso Phala

BenchMarks Foundation community monitor from Limpopo Province

Christian Aid partner BenchMarks Foundation (BMF) is monitoring the impact of mining on communities, ensuring they are heard, protected and considered within the business plans of big companies.

HIV/AIDS

As a fitting closure to our HIV programme, former Christian Aid partners AIDS Consortium and KwaZulu Natal Christian Council made a major input on stigma and prevention to the 2017-22 National Strategic Plan (NSP) on HIV/AIDS launched by the National AIDS Council (SANAC) in 2017.  

The right to a dignified life

Church Land Programme (CLP) support the ever growing Abahlali base-Mjondolo (shack dweller) movement, in their struggle for land, rights and dignity. Together they have secured increased access to electricity, water and health facilities and recognition of their housing and land rights.

A community supported by the Church Land Programme (CLP)

Reports and resources

With Aprodev, we support organisations from India, South Africa, Bolivia and Peru to develop responses to the World Bank energy strategy review.

With Aprodev, we supported organisations from India, South Africa, Bolivia and Peru to develop responses to World Bank energy strategy review.

Contact us

Christian Aid South Africa is in the process of forming a joint programme with other ACT agencies based in Pretoria - Norwegian Church Aid, Church of Sweden and Brot fuer die Welt. Our direct Christian Aid team consists of a programme manager based in the UK and a joint ACT Change Manager based in South Africa. We also draw on the expertise of other colleagues at our UK headquarters, other Christian Aid teams across Africa and the world, and INGO networks in South Africa.

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